With the passing of Thanksgiving, the holiday season is officially upon us. It’s that time of year when colorful lights, wreaths, and Christmas trees are going up, and families are recognizing their unique traditions through a manger, menorah, kinara, and many other decorative items are adorning mantles and tables all over the United States. While these beautiful and symbolic decorations create the atmosphere of the winter holidays, they can also deafen your cheer in a matter of minutes.
Each year, there are over 1,500 fires that start with holiday decorations, and that number doesn’t even include the indoor Christmas trees that catch aflame. The damage from Christmas tree fires each year is upwards of $16 million. The U.S. Fire Administration says their busiest time of year is the months of November, December, and January. These fires are responsible for several deaths and many injuries, not to mention the expense of property damage.
Injuries and costs also arise from slips and falls when hanging decorations, and similar accidents taking down the festive fare. All in all, the decorations you count on to make the holidays merry and bright are a risk to the season. Here are some holiday decorating safety tips:
#1: Purchase a Fresh, Green Christmas Tree
If you celebrate Christmas, then the biggest fire hazard in your house is the giant fir tree you decorate each year. In particular, many artificial trees are at risk of going up in flames. You can reduce the chances of a Christmas tree fire by buying a fresh tree that is still green and healthy. In the right condition and with consistent watering, your tree should stay green for a few weeks. That will prevent any sparks from a short circuit on your Christmas lights, space heater, or another electrical source from sending your tree up in smoke.
As well, you want to be certain your Christmas tree is placed away from any open flames or fireplaces. Several holiday house fires start each year from a tree touching a decorative candle or catching from the fireplace.
#2: Keep Kids from Electrical Plugs and Outlets
During the holidays, emergency rooms see a significant number of injuries from electric shocks. The reason behind this uptick in electrocution is that there are more things to plug in, and the process usually happens on a regular basis. Plus, families often turn over responsibility for plugging in the Christmas tree lights or an electric menorah to children. Kids may not proceed with the same caution and awareness as an adult.
To keep the youngest members of your family safe throughout the holidays, be cognizant of their ability to properly manipulate electrical cords and outlets. Also, be certain that younger children and pets are kept away from the additional electrical cords found throughout the house.
#3: Check Your Holiday Lights
Indoor and outdoor holiday lights are a constant fire hazard in the Florida. First and foremost, it is essential to check each strand of lights that you put inside or outside your home. You need to confirm that each strand, whether new or old, is free of exposed wiring, cracks, or faulty bulbs. These seemingly minor damages can lead to sparks or high heat when holiday lights are left on for hours and hours
Second, check your holiday lights are turned off before bed each night. It is customary, and practical, to turn these festive lights on after sunset when the colors can really be seen by neighbors and friends. However, this tradition also means many people accidentally leave their lights on overnight, which is how most of these fires start.
#4: Limit the Extension Cords You Use
Another major source of electrical fires over the holidays are extension cords. Frequently, people view these thick, orange cords as durable and able to withstand season after season of outdoor use. However, its common for extension cords to become worn and damaged after a few years. Always be certain these cords are in good condition before plugging in your holiday lights or other electrical decorations.
Another common problem with extension cords is overloading a single cord with multiple strands of lights or blow up decorations. While a single extension cord can typically handle three standard strands of outdoor holiday lights without any problems, you want to carefully read the instructions for use provided by the manufacturer and then follow those best practices.
#5: Don’t Clutter Your Hallways and Walkways
Some families find that the added decorations around the house require some rearrangement of furniture and other household items. Both holiday decorations and your usual furniture have a tendency to relocate to hallways and paths through the house. In these new locations, the unanticipated or forgotten holiday decorations cause a number of people to slip, trip, or fall. The resulting injuries include everything from a sprained ankle to broken bones.
Of course, heading these precautions doesn’t mean you should forego your family’s traditional trimmings. Instead, just do so thoughtfully and with some concern for the potential dangers that do exist.